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New York Gov. Hochul announces "parameters of conceptual" budget deal, two weeks after deadline

Shriners Vote Saves Springfield MA Hospital

By Paul Tuthill

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-847743.mp3

Springfield MA – A half dozen Shriners hospitals, including the one in Springfield Massachusetts, that had been targeted for possible closure will still open. Delegates to a national Shriners convention in San Antonio Texas voted to keep open all 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children. But changes will need to be made to keep the financially struggling facilities viable... WAMC's Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.....

The vote in San Antonio came as a tremendous relief to thousands of families in New England who depend on the Springfield Shriner's hospital for specialty pediatric care. 21 year old Gina Gilday of Hampden Massachusetts was born without lower legs and became a patient at the hospital when she was two weeks old. Through the years she was fitted with prosthetics and taught skills, including driving a car and playing sports.

When word came out a few months ago that the hospital was targeted for closure people rallied, wrote letters and emailed Allen Zippen, chairman emeritus of the Springfield Shriners hospital board of governors credited community support for saving the facility which was founded in 1925 and sees roughly 20 thousand outpatient visits a year.

The Shriners hospitals provide free care and are supported by donations and an endowment. But Zippen says the stock market collapse last fall shrunk the endowment by three billion dollars, and the hospitals are tapping into for a million dollars a day. He says the vote to keep the hospitals open, will mean changes. Zippen says negotiations are ongoing to form a partnership between Shriners and the region's largest hospital Bay State Medical Center.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno called the decision by Shriner's trustees a great moral boost for the city. The Shriners also operate a hospital in Boston. It is one of four that specialize in treating burn patients.